Q I learned that my less-experienced male counterpart makes more money than me.
Worse, my goals are more aggressive than his because my manager says, “I’m the best in the department.” How do I get a raise? Do I have any legal recourse in Georgia?
AThe good news: Nearly every state has some variation of Fair Employment Acts, which makes discriminating based on gender illegal, according to the American Association of University Women. Alabama and Mississippi offer no such protections ( get on it, guys). However, not all workers are always covered. According to Georgia-based employment lawyer John Beasley, that state’s law protects only state employees. But private-sector workers still have legal options.
Beasley recommends first sharing the specifics of your situation with an attorney to determine whether your employer is violating the law. Next, plan a meeting with your manager and a human resources official to let them know your dissatisfaction with being paid less for better work, and your desire for a raise that matches your manager’s high expectations. Don’t say that you’ve lawyered up quite yet. But if you aren’t able to get a raise, meet with your lawyer again.
You might want to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or go directly to court, citing a violation of the Equal Pay Act of 1963.
You must be able to prove that you are being paid less despite doing the same amount of work and having the same skills and duties as your male co-worker. You can show job descriptions, employee manuals and performance requirements. A subpoena of payroll records can show the pay difference.
Or instead you can file an EEOC complaint citing Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, says Beasley. You’d still need to prove pay differences, but unlike under the Equal Pay Act, employees don’t need to be doing the exact same job—as long as the discrepancy in pay is based on gender. You have 180 days since the last act of discrimination ( your pay- check) to file this.
Even if you agreed to settle disputes in arbitration when you accepted your job, you can (and perhaps should) still file charges; it’s just that a third-party group will settle the case instead of a judge and jury.